Friday, December 26, 2014

Plans and Up We go!

Now that the construction is beginning to look like a structure, we've decided to add our plans to the blog to give you an idea of where we are heading.  Below is the main floor as the house will sit on our property.  The drive way is on the bottom of the diagram and the large hill with the big runoff ditch and coffee is on the top side of the diagram.  The front of the house, to the left, faces the Nicoya Bay and Peninsula. The back, or right side of the diagram, faces the garage and what we hope to make our Talapia pond.

You will enter the house through the double doors on the down side center of the plans on through the "Bell Tower". Once through the "Bell Tower" you can jog either left into the Kitchen or right down the hall to the Living Room.  Going through the Kitchen you will reach the Dining area. To enter from the outside into the "Bell Tower", Dining Room, Living Room and Art Rooms you will use French Doors.  The Art Room, Living Room and Dining Room French Doors also have glass side panels. The Kitchen, Side Hall, and Guest Bedroom have Dutch Doors. The Art Room, beginning just above the Bell Tower on the plans, is entered from the outside corridor on either the driveway side or steep hill side.  It can also be entered through the extra Bathroom sitting behind the "Bell Tower" and next to the Art Room.  The "line" crossing the right side of the Art Room is for a future Bathroom if we, or someone else, wishes to turn it into a Bedroom.  The wall will not be there while being used as our Art Room, but can be added in the future as plumbing and electrical fixtures have been made available.

After the Art Room is our Guest Bedroom with a private Bath and back entry with corridor to sit and enjoy the beautiful ocean view.  Next to the Guest Room is the Laundry.  As many of you know, we want to have a Bed and Breakfast.  Unfortunately, we are currently only a one Guest Room B & B but hope to build a 2 Bedroom Casita in the near future.

Taking you back to the main section of the house, you can see stairs in the center that go up to a landing and then to the second floor.  The second floor is the location of our Bedroom.  At the landing there are arched openings that look down on the Kitchen and Living Room, Dining Room areas and a Pantry is created underneath the stairs off the kitchen.  Corridor runs all around the house and is widest off the Living Room and Dining Room at the front.

As you go upstairs you walk into our private area.  A large closet on the left, Bathroom straight ahead and Bedroom to the right.  Looking at the bedroom, on the left side is a patio and on the right is the "Bell Tower" which is 2 1/2 stories high.  The Bedroom sits over the Kitchen and Pantry downstairs.

Our design is rustic with concrete counters and open shelving and cupboards.  Time will tell how close we come to what we have been imagining for the past two years.  With so much downsizing and so many changes along the way, we are just hoping it all comes together.

As you can see the walls are going up quickly.

At this point, the rooms are beginning to take shape and it actually looks like a house.

Here you can see some of the future windows.  We have decided to make some arched and some with wood beam headers.  So many decisions and so difficult to really know how it will look.

Work continues 7 days a week, even on Christmas day.  The 4 men who live in the bodega and stay at the site full time were working when we stopped by with tamales for them on Christmas morning.

Up on metal scaffolding to get high enough to add blocks.  Our ceilings are 10 feet high on the first floor.

An inside view of, I think, the Art Room looking into the Bathroom or maybe not. :)

Would love to tell you which room this is but.....

Here you are looking at the side of the house that faces the driveway.  The Guest Bedroom!

A view over the top from back to front.

These small "arched" windows are in the Guest Bedroom and their Bathroom.

The doorway and large window here are the view side of the Guest Bedroom.  The next large opening is for one of the sets of French Doors in the Art Room.

All along the corridors are columns that hold up the roof and overhangs which are almost a meter past the corridor.  This is the first one that is being poured.  The two end ones are finished first and then the trusty string will line up the remaining columns on this side to insure that they are all in a straight line. 

The forms are created and the concrete is poured.

Forms are also used to create the columns around re-bar towers between the laid cement block that will also be poured with concrete to create a very strong building.  The code here, because of the earthquakes, is equal to that in the state of California.

Boards for support while the concrete dries.

As the sun begins to get low in the sky and the day comes to an end, the wheel barrels are cleaned and tipped up to rest and dry over night ready to begin work again at sunrise.

Wood used for forms.

Most of the walls have reached the point where arches will be created for the windows and doors.

It's getting so late in the day you can see Don's shadow taking photos!

And here sits the bodega and home for at least 4 workers until our home is finished.  

To end today's blog I'm attaching a couple of our incredibly beautiful sunsets.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Block by Block!

  Today we are watching the removal of the wood forms that are used to shape and contain the concrete that has been poured.  The forms are made of Cypress trees that have been locally milled especially for the job.

Sorry for the barbed wire in the middle of the photo, however, I wanted to show our home site from the main road.  While walking and seeing the view in person, it shows up much better, however, the photo still points out the size and visibility of our property and construction!

The first row of block is being laid.

After the forms are removed, the tedious job of placing cement blocks over the upright re-bar is 
what happens next.  Each block is aligned and leveled and filled and surrounded with concrete.
Concrete is mixed in the power mixer but moved around in wheelbarrels.  Here you can see the re-bar in the center and the concrete surrounding the blocks and in the centers.  

And the work goes on!

It is surprising how quickly the walls go up and, although I don't think cement block is "beautiful", the fact that it means we are a bit closer to our own home is beautiful!

The one and only mixer that runs on electricity and the materials used to create the concrete for construction.  Building with something other than wood and sheetrock is so foreign to both of us, every step of the way is a new experience that we are curious to explore and try to understand.

Again the string is used to keep things leveled.  Simple but effective.  And, the wood structures add stability while the concrete is drying.

It's funny how Tico parents think like Gringo parents when trying to motivate their children to become educated.  We put our children to work in our Cafe and here the Ticos bring their sons to the construction site to work or they send them to pick coffee.  Construction here is very labor intensive and these kids work very hard.  Pickers also work hard but most of the coffee here is picked by Nicaraguans. This year is different for us as we have all local pickers who are actually friends. Because it is the only option for making extra income, even the educated pick at times.  This year one of our pickers has learned quite a bit of English and while picking, she helps me with Spanish and I help her with English. The days are long but pass much quicker with a little conversation.  In past years I've always felt left out because the pickers chatter and sing constantly while picking and now I can chatter also but still I cannot sing!!

Here Don is "talking" (I use the term loosely as Jose does not speak English and Don's Spanish is minimal) with Jose who is one of the managers about adding two more windows.  Seeing all that concrete makes me feel a little claustrophobic and I'm up for any additional windows!

The rooms are starting to take shape and now when we stand in the middle of construction we know which room we are viewing.  I'm already placing furniture!!

While the men are busy working on adding more block to the walls of our home, I wanted to share some beautiful views.  This one is from the main road just before heading down our road.

Here I am a little farther away from our road on the main road.  To the left is the Pacific and in the center and right you are seeing the Nicoya Bay and Peninsula dotted with many islands.  Many times there are also large boats visible and it  is fun to watch them through binoculars and wonder what is their purpose.

Back a little farther I've included some of the incredible cloud formations that we experience on a daily basis.

The view and the clouds are constantly changing and this unusual one grabbed my attention!

It continued to roll in and eventually it consumed me and just as mysteriously vanished and blessed me with warm sunshine.

So, while we were viewing the beautiful scenery in Berlin, the builders have been busy!  Look at those walls now!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Visit to Turones!

We're off again with our friends Maryse and Guy and their visiting sister-in-law, Christian, to check out a Resort as well as a coffee finca.

Turrones is about 45 minutes from us and near to Ateneas, Costa Rica and as Maryse and Guy had been there before, they wanted to share it with us.  Turones is a Coffee Finca and a Resort where you can visit for the day or longer.  There are cabins available for rent, which we viewed, and they are quite cozy and well equipped.  There are two separate, large swimming pools with long fun looking slides and a hot tub.  Unfortunately, it was a bit chilly for us to swim but they are quite busy at this time of year, as school is out in December and January (Costa Rica's summer vacation) and many people also take their vacation.  As you can see, there are also a number of places to have a picnic.

The slides are quite long and beautifully landscaped as are the grounds of the Resort.

Here is a covered sitting area with a spectacular view of Alajuela and Gracia.  We enjoyed our lunch and a nice glass of wine sitting here.

This is a view from the top of the slide that runs down to the second pool.

Not interested in packing a lunch!  There is also a restaurant with a bar!  We had lunch there and everything was delicious.

When we arrived we were greeted by lots of coffee drying in the parking lot on black landscape plastic.
It was late in the afternoon and our tour couldn't start until the coffee was taken care of for the night.  We all pitched in to scoop the coffee into sacks and the job went quickly.

Look at us work!!

Just a little bit more.  Evon, in the yellow shirt, is the owner and here Don and Christian are watching as Guy looks on.

Once the coffee was taken care of we went off to see how this company processes our coffee. Don & I are very familiar with what happens to coffee before it gets to this point and were interested to see how other coffee growers process their coffee once it has been picked.  Our coffee is taken to a receividor that belongs to the Palmares Coop and they remove the skins, dry and package our coffee.At Turones they have their own machine which removes the skins of the coffee, shown in the photo, and they they dry it as we showed above and also on large tables.

Here Don and Christian are looking at the waste that is made from removing the skins from the beans of the coffee.

A look at how the processing machine works!

The machine separates the coffee beans from the skins and also grades the beans by size.

Evon is showing Don and Maryse what happens once the beans and skins are separated. After the beans have gone through the processor they are spread out on landscape screen about waist high above the ground to dry in the sun.

Each evening the beans are covered with a plastic cover to protect them from any moisture occurring overnight.  Turones bags their own coffee and sells it in the U.S. and other countries.

After a fun day at Turones we returned to Guy and Maryse's, snapped a quick photo--Guy, Maryse, Christian and Don. :)  Guess who is taking the photo!